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Pawan Sinha

Pawan Sinha PhD

Pawan Sinha is a professor of computational and visual neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He received his undergraduate degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi and his Masters and doctoral degrees from the Department of Computer Science at MIT.

Using a combination of experimental and computational modeling techniques, research in Prof. Sinha’s laboratory focuses on understanding how the human brain learns to recognize objects through visual experience and how objects are encoded in memory. Prof. Sinha's experimental work on these issues involves studying healthy individuals and also those with neurological disorders such as autism. The goal is not only to derive clues regarding the nature and development of high-level visual skills, but also to create better therapeutic routines to help children overcome visual impairments. Prof. Sinha founded Project Prakash in 2005 with the twin objectives of providing treatment to children with disabilities and also understanding mechanisms of learning and plasticity in the brain. Project Prakash, which is a collaboration between MIT researchers and ophthalmologists in India, has provided insights into some fundamental questions about brain function while also transforming the lives of many blind children by bringing them the gift of sight.

Prof. Sinha is a recipient of the Pisart Vision Award from the Lighthouse Guild, the PECASE – US Government’s highest award for young scientists, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Neuroscience, the John Merck Scholars Award for research on developmental disorders, the Jeptha and Emily Wade Award for creative research, the Troland Award from the National Academies, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Delhi. His laboratory’s research has appeared in several leading scientific journals including Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Proceedings of the Royal Society. This work has been profiled in several media channels including the New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC News, National Public Radio and TIME magazine.

Prof. Sinha’s teaching has consistently received high ratings from students. He has received the Dean’s Award for Advising and Teaching at MIT. On a broader scale, he has written a series of articles on various aspects of normal and abnormal brain function towards the goal of bringing the latest findings in neuroscience to the attention of the general public.

Prof. Sinha has served on the program committees for prominent scientific conferences on object and face recognition and is currently a member of the editorial board of ACM's Journal of Applied Perception. He is a founder of Imagen Inc, a company that applies insights regarding human image processing to challenging real-world machine vision problems. Imagen was the winner of the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship competition. Prof. Sinha was named a Global Indus Technovator, and was also inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the world’s smallest reproduction of a printed book.